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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Today I Prepare

by Lynn Miller

Summering towards
seated moments
found without splinter
found with or without care.
No audience save the
critical unbecoming self.
Were it a long race
to now,
surprised to be amongst
the last running
with a chance to go
to the target beyond end,
tanks full with cupped felt.
So this is the deal.
This is the living life I’ve dealt myself.
Quite past wonderful,
the peaceful purpose
of this old broken down ranch,
these dusty aromatic canyons,
these patient horses,
those skinned over paints.
The big things to come
are all in the building
and the buildings.
There is in the oldest parts of my self
a fear of in-completion,
a fragile marker
in comic fellowship
with arrival.
Yesterday’s “always”.
The stretched and bent note
deep deep within
a return to first
working love.
The three geldings
each a different voice
plucked with dusty steps
those strings my hands chorded
towards tenuous melody,
dirt stirring.
Last night’s thunderstorm
was a lovely perfection
of angry sky,
sharp crackles of light,
wind rushing to get elsewhere,
and wet rain.
All of it laid
over the pulverized dustiness
of our bone-dry desert.
This morning
the shaded moistened sky
is uncertain
of its course for the day.
How is it
that being inside this weather
I find myself
refreshed and hopeful?
Wandering through corners
of the woods
on the ranch
I felt both enchanted
and grateful
as if it were the first time
and not the thousandth.
I also noticed
there were no accusations
by the place
of me.
It was as if
I just might be
the best person
to be here.
The morning light
after a storm
enhanced the interior qualities
of each piece of the forest.
The pines and junipers
seemed to be
holding hands
with heads bowed.
Too short
and appropriately sweet,
I had found
an encampment
for my soul,
a reason to be,
within and without,
embraced and embracing,
excruciatingly temporary.
Sometimes I mistake
the urge to write
for the need to read.
No reading will satisfy
at those times
but recording my own words
always does,
even when the writing
is dull
and pointless.
It isn’t writing actually,
it’s the process.
The reaching inside
and finding a string
which when pulled
to tumble from the sack.
Today I prepare
to mow hay
with Matt, Rex, Bob and Granite.
The mowing is the thing.
The hay is but an afterword.
The time with the horses
is most important for me.
The grooming of the field
is most valued by the ranch.
If it results in any winter feed,
it is a bonus.


“The Other Day”

by Lynn Miller

Spotlight On: Book Reviews

Book Review Butchering

Two New Butchering Volumes

Danforth’s BUTCHERING is an unqualified MASTERPIECE! One which actually gives me hope for the furtherance of human kind and the ripening of good farming everywhere because, in no small part, of this young author’s sensitive comprehension of the modern disconnect with food, feeding ourselves, and farming.

A Quiet Stand

A Quiet Stand

Burnout is common to idealists who invest deeply in their dreams. It is easy to overreach, and promise more than you have to give. Then too there is that tempered hidden anchor called hope, the mountain climber’s friend driven into cracks to belay and secure him as he goes, which still may fail first or last. So following the story that underlies these essays it is not hard to see how, as Kingsnorth says, finding himself increasingly mired in endless meetings with corporate spokesmen paid to resist him, enough futile effort might lead to despair.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 4

Assuming that you’ve found a farm you want to buy, next you’ll need to determine if you can buy it. If you have sold your property, and/or saved your money, and have the means to buy the farm you are sitting pretty. If you do not have the full price of a considered farm, in cash or any other form, you will likely have to look for financing.

Barbed Wire History and Varieties

Book Excerpt: The invention of barb wire was the most important event in the solution of the fence problem. The question of providing fencing material had become serious, even in the timbered portions of the country, while the great prairie region was almost wholly without resource, save the slow and expensive process of hedging. At this juncture came barb wire, which was at once seen to make a cheap, effective, and durable fence, rapidly built and easily moved.

Retrofitting a Fireplace with a Woodstove

How to Retrofit a Fireplace with a Woodstove

Because the venting requirements for a wood stove are different than for a fireplace you need to retrofit a stainless steel chimney liner. A liner provides the draft necessary to ensure that the stove will operate safely and efficiently.

Haying With Horses

Hitching Horses To A Mower

When hitching to the mower, first make sure it’s on level ground and out of gear. The cutter bar should be fastened up in the vertical or carrier position. This is for safety of all people in attendance during hitching.

"Work Horse Handbook, 2nd Edition" by Lynn Miller

Draft Collars and How To Size Them

It is difficult to accurately measure a horse’s neck without fitting. In other words, there are so many variables involved in the shape and size of a horse’s neck that the only accurate and easy way to size the neck is to use several collars and put them on one at a time until fitting is found.

Training Workhorses Training Teamsters First Time Hitching

First Time Hitching

More from Lynn R. Miller’s highly anticipated Second Edition of “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.” Today’s excerpt, “First Time Hitching,” is from Chapter 12, “Follow Through to Finish.”

Training Workhorses Training Teamsters Driving Junipers Training

Driving: Juniper’s Training

A final sneak peak at the Second Edition of Lynn R. Miller’s “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.” Today’s excerpt, “Driving: Juniper’s Training,” is from Chapter 11, “Starting and Training Older Horses.”

An Introduction To Grasslands Farming

From Dusty Shelves: A World War II era article on grassland farming.

Honoring Our Teachers

Honoring Our Teachers

from issue:

I believe that there exist many great practicing teachers, some of who deliberately set out to become one and others who may have never graduated from college but are none-the-less excellent and capable teachers. I would hazard a guess that many readers of Small Farmer’s Journal know more than one teacher who falls within this latter category. My grandfather, and artist and author Eric Sloane, were two such teachers.

Basic Blacksmithing Techniques

Illustrated guide to basic blacksmithing techniques, an excerpt from Blacksmithing: Basics For The Homestead.

How To Prune a Formal Hedge

How To Prune A Formal Hedge

This guide to hedge-trimming comes from The Pruning Answer Book by Lewis Hill and Penelope O’Sullivan. Q: What’s the correct way to shear a formal hedge? A: The amount of shearing depends upon the specific plant and whether the hedge is formal or informal. You’ll need to trim an informal hedge only once or twice a year, although more vigorous growers, such as privet and ninebark, may need additional clippings.

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

You are probably thinking why would I want to dry up a doe? If the plan is to rebreed the doe, then she will need time to rebuild her stamina. Milk production takes energy. Kid production takes energy, too. If the plan is to have a fresh goat in March, then toward the end of October start to dry her up. The first thing to do is cut back on her grain. Grain fuels milk production.

Laying Out Fields for Plowing

Laying Out Fields for Plowing

There are four general plans, or methods of plowing fields. These are: (1) to plow from one side of a field to the other; (2) to plow around the field; (3) to plow a field in lands; and (4) to start the plowing in the center of the field.

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows

From humor-filled stories of a life of farming to incisive examinations of food safety, from magical moments of the re-enchantment of agriculture to the benches we would use for the sharpening of our tools, Farmer Pirates & Dancing Cows offers a full meal of thought and reflection.

Art of Working Horses Hunter Review

Art of Working Horses – A Review

from issue:

Over 40 years Lynn Miller has written a whole library of valuable and indispensable books about the craft of working horses. He has helped beginners acquire the basics of harnessing and working around horses, and has led those further along to focus on the specific demands of plowing, mowing, haying and related subjects. But, in a fitting culmination, his latest book, The Art of Working Horses, raises its sights and openly ponders secrets at the heart of the work that may over time elevate it to an art.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT